Sen. Josh Hawley

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley says that as Washington continues to debate the security of upcoming elections, lawmakers should also focus on the bad intentions of China.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley believes the federal government has taken seriously the lessons of 2016 and the threats to election security next year.

Interference three years ago came from Russia, but the Missouri Republican thinks another nation has nefarious, and broader, plans of its own: China.

“I’m worried about how they might try to interfere with the workings of the country,” Hawley said in an interview with News-Press NOW.

Election security became a topic in Washington following the 2016 general elections, crystallized more recently by the release of the Mueller report on Russian interference.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the full chamber would have a briefing about the state of election security.

Hawley said he has been involved in such briefings as a member of the Armed Services and Homeland Security committees.

“I think the Department of Defense and other agencies are taking this really seriously,” the Missourian said. “We do need to protect the integrity of our elections as well as the integrity of our technology and our information and our data.”

He added then, “I’m most concerned about China, across the board, on these issues.”

China, the senator said, has stolen American jobs and technology, and it has built its military “on the backs of our middle class.” Hawley said the United States needs to stand up to these acts.

“I’m worried about what they’re doing with their military and worried about how they’re trying to steal our technology and trying to get our own personal information to find ways into that,” he said.

On the personal data front, Hawley detailed his recently introduced legislation aimed at preventing video-hosting websites from recommending content that features children.

His Protecting Children from Online Predators Act came in the aftermath of a report by The New York Times that indicated YouTube algorithms could direct videos of young people to pedophiles.

“That’s what this algorithm is doing. It tracks people who view videos of children, and it recommends more videos featuring children to those same people,” Hawley said. “YouTube says that it has the technology just to take those child videos out of its auto-recommendation process. ... The only reason they’re not doing it is they want to make money on it.”

Ken Newton can be reached at ken.newton@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPNewton.​